Monday, June 29, 2009

Hello from Eastern Music Festival

These last couple weeks have been filled with exams, and then a couple family emergencies, a lot of stress, and little oboe playing.

I have no such excuse for the last couple weeks of the quarter. Very shortly after my recital I had excerpt boards (Mozart concerto, Bach, Bartok, Beethoven, Brahms, Ravel, Rossini, Strauss, Tchaik), which we ran like a mock audition. Theoretically. In reality, they turned out to merely be blind boards, with no winner selected or anything like that. I do appreciate that they were done blind, though; I think that I got more blunt and thus more accurate comments than I would have otherwise. I also managed to get a (one-time) paid gig, playing at the high school for the arts downtown. Fun to play, and a good place to get my name out.

I also got to play in two Masters conducting students' independent project of two Bach cantatas done one on a part- 140 (Wachet Auf, aka. The Most Famous Cantata Ever) and 78 (aka. One Of Those Ones No-one Knows). I had a lot of fun, and they came together really well; I really love playing Bach. We played in the atrium, which surprisingly enough provided good acoustics for once. You'd never want to play chamber winds pieces there (though we do, oh we do), but it approximates a large church quite well. I was a little nervous, because the other oboist and I alternated playing first, so I was playing the aria in 140, and in the two rehearsals it had been a little...subpar. But it went really well at the performance: a good reed and good musicality too. :-D

I know my promises are fast becoming worthless, but I'm going to try really hard to get back in the swing of things while here at camp and to post regularly. I've been "finding myself," I suppose, this past year, as well as living a lot farther from my friends, and the result has been, as you are well aware, a lack of regular oboe blogging as I adjust to my new, increasingly adult life.

I promise to try, though, to start back up again. I like having this blog, and I don't want to disappear! The problem right now may in fact be too much to say and too little time (as well as too ineffective internet)!

I arrived at EMF on Saturday evening, and most of Saturday and Sunday were spent roaming around with little to do except go to meetings (welcomes, dorm meetings, work study meetings, orchestra meetings, etc) and take a placement audition. I was pretty happy with how my audition went; I played the second movement of the Bach partita I played on my recital and the EH excerpt from Roman Carnival. I wasn't expecting to win an EH solo, really, since while I love playing EH, I'm not one of the top EH players at my school. But I must have done well, because these first two weeks I'm playing 2nd/EH in Roman Carnival, and 3rd/EH in Mahler Symphony 2 mvt 1. While I'm sad to miss Beethoven 5 and Bartok Concerto for Orchestra (expecially Bartok), I can't really complain about Roman Carnival!

Today we began the festival proper. I had a very good lesson this morning with Randall Ellis, who I have lessons with for the first three weeks of camp. We worked on Roman Carnival and then the first movement of the Vaughan Williams concerto. It's been a while since I've looked at the Vaughan Williams, but due to the placement of my recital as well as things in the rest of my life, I don't really have something new worked up. At the end of the year, I was working on excerpts, etudes, and reeds, mostly. I'm really looking forward to learning the concerto, though. Such a gorgeous piece. We worked on musicality: phrasing, vibrating pick-ups, making sure every note has motion, etc. It was pretty helpful, and I'm glad to see that while Mr. Ellis is very nice (& complimentary), his critiques are apt, and his compliments are very believable. Sometimes you run into teachers who are uncertain enough of your abilities and temperament that they let it get in the way of being helpful. I would rather have a harsh teacher than a overly complimentary or patronizing one.

This afternoon, then, we finally had our first orchestra rehearsal: Roman Carnival. I was a little nervous, as our conductor is Gerald Schwarz and each time I'd seen Mr. Ellis he had warned me to be very meticulous in following Mr. Schwarz's directions. I will say that Mr. Schwarz is a little intimidating, but he was very understanding of our rather messy (sight-reading) rehearsal today, and as I was very careful to follow his directions to the best of my ability he was very complimentary of my solo. I'd forgotten, somehow, just how exposed and important that solo is, but oh, I had such fun. It was a very good first rehearsal, aside from one glaringly obvious wrong note. But I'm pretty sure I made a good first impression, at least. :-D (The issue, I think, will be tuning. We alternate between two rehearsal spaces, and the hall where we were today was exceedingly hot, to the point where I began to get dizzy when repeating sections of my solo over and over. I will be sure to bring water tomorrow.)

I'm really excited to be here. Orchestral playing really is my first and only true love.

(It was also a little bit exciting to finally have a need for my fantastic BAM oboe/EH case. I got it just after my last doubling concert of the year. It's fabulously light, and the backpack straps are really convenient. The only problem is a lack of room for music and reed tools, but the convenience more than makes up for that. Here are a few pictures of my shiny case and of the campus here at EMF.)